Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathematical And Physical Papers - Iii"

See other formats


354           ON THE  CHANGE  OF  REFRANGIBILITY  OF LIGHT.
Cautions with respect to the discrimination between true and false internal dispersion.
169.    In the early part of this paper certain tests were given for distinguishing between true and false internal dispersion in a fluid.    But it requires some experience in  observations of this kind to be able readily to decide, and a too rigid adherence to one of the tests to the exclusion of the others might lead to error.
The first test relates to the continuous appearance of a truly dispersed beam. But sometimes solid particles exist in mechanical suspension, which are so fine and so numerous, that this test alone might lead the observer to mistake a falsely for a truly dispersed beam. On the other hand, if a fluid which itself alone exhibits no internal dispersion, true or false, hold solid particles in what is obviously mere mechanical suspension, we must not immediately conclude that the medium, taken as a whole, is incapable of changing the refrangibility of any portion of the light incident upon it. For we have seen that the fluid state is not in the least degree essential to the exhibition of sensibility, and of course a fluid will serve as well as anything else for the mere mechanical support of a sensitive substance.
170.    Thus lycopodium is very sensitive, as appears by examining the powder in a linear spectrum.    Accordingly, I found that when a little lycopodium was mixed with water, and the whole medium was examined by the fourth  method, it  displayed  its sensibility, although the beam  of light which had changed its refrangibility  was  plainly  discontinuous.    When  Indian yellow was used instead of lycopodium, the whole medium exhibited its sensibility when it was examined by the fourth method.    In this case the suspended particles were so fine that the beam of light which had changed its refrangibility appeared to be continuous, though of course it was not really so.    In observing with muddy fluids like these, it is almost necessary to employ absorbing media, since otherwise the effect of the light scattered at the surfaces of the prisms and large lens might lead the observer to conclusions altogether erroneous.
171.    The next test relates to the polarization of a falsely dispersed beam.    Being engaged on one occasion in examining